The elephant in the room for years when discussing downtown Barrie, despite the restaurants, stores, festivals and waterfront, has always been safety.
Now, those concerns are being addressed with the creation of the Bright Spot project, which came about in the wake of a safety audit that followed a concerned citizen’s experience of feeling unsafe in the downtown in September 2020.
“She was approached by two different men on two different occasions while walking on Dunlop Street from Mulcaster to the Five Points,” said Barrie Police Community Safety Constable Keira Brooks.
The Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) has partnered with the Barrie Police Service, the Women & Children’s Shelter, the Salvation Army, Shak’s World and the City of Barrie to make the downtown more inviting through this project.
The project is similar to the Block Parent Program and provides safe places for the public to go if they are feeling unsafe.
Business owners can call police, help arrange a ride, or just offer a place to wait until a friend arrives.
Brooks said to join the project, business owners must take part in 20 minutes of trauma-informed training.
“The businesses are also provided with a list of resources should that person need someone from the men’s or women’s shelter, Youth Haven or mental health counselling through Shak’s World,” explained Brooks.
Participating businesses can be identified by the Bright Spot signs in their windows.
What also came out of the safety audit was the installation of string lighting in the alleys between 28 Dunlop Street East and 34 Dunlop Street East as well as between 50 Dunlop Street East and 46 Dunlop Street East.
“Leading the safety audit was a really informative process for all partners involved. I want to thank all the businesses who have signed up for the Bright Spot program and I’m really excited to see the lights go up in the alleys. Downtown Barrie is made up of amazing people and businesses and we want them all to feel safe,” noted Brooks.
The string lights add more lighting to the alleys and also beautify and draw attention to the area.
As well, 10 more security cameras have been installed downtown bringing the number of cameras in the area to 20.